Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas gallinae) - Pigeon Canker.



Wild pigeons can carry trichomonas gallinae or pigeon canker.
Trichomonas gallinae is a protozoan organism that is commonly found in the mouth,throat, gastro-intestinal tract and upper respiratory tract of pigeons, doves, turkeys, chickens, canaries, raptors (birds of prey) and a variety of psittacine (parrot) bird speciesincluding budgerigars, cockatiels and Amazon parrots. Both domestic and wild bird species can be affected.In large numbers, the Trichomonas organism is capable of causing severe respiratory and gastrointestinal disease in avian hosts. This disease condition is termed trichomoniasis by medical professionals. To bird enthusiasts, the Trichomonas disease condition is also known by such names as "trich" (said like 'try-k'), "Canker" (pigeons and doves) or "Frounce" (raptors).

This page contains detailed, but simple to understand, information on the bird diseasetrichomoniasis or "Canker", which is caused by the protozoan organism Trichomonas gallinae. Trichomonas disease symptoms, modes of transmission (means of disease spread), medical treatment options and tips for ongoing Trichomonas prevention are all included, along with information on how to diagnose the condition.



Trichomonas gallinae pigeon canker page.



Trichomoniasis (Trichomonas gallinae) - Contents:

1) What is avian Trichomonas and what does it look like? - facts about the Trichomonas organism.
Contains a link to a Trichomonas gallinae video that was filmed by this author in the clinic.

2) Symptoms of Trichomonas infection in birds (symptoms of canker disease).
This section includes a list of diseases other than Trichomonas that can cause white or yellow plaques or spotsto appear in the mouths and throats of birds (i.e. diseases that can mimic or look like Trichomonas).

3) How is trichomoniasis disease spread among birds?

4) How is trichomoniasis diagnosed in birds (how to tell if a bird has the organism)?

5) Treatment of Trichomonad infestations in definitive host birds.

6) Preventing your bird from catching canker.
Includes information and tips for the control and prevention of Trichomonas in large bird flocks.



Trichomonas gallinae pigeon canker page.



1) What is avian Trichomonas and what does it look like? - facts about the Trichomonas organism.

Avian Trichomonas is a parasitic organism that infests the upper gastro-intestinal tract(esophagus, crop and proventriculus), mouth, oropharynx (throat region) and upper respiratory tract of a range of different bird species. The species of Trichomonas that affectsbirds including: pigeons, doves, turkeys, chickens, canaries, raptors (birds of prey), various parrot species (e.g. budgerigars, cockatiels and Amazon parrots) as well as certain other types of birds iscalled Trichomonas gallinae (there is also another species of Trichomonas that affects pigeons,which is called Trichomonas columbae).


Trichomonas diagram.What type of organism is Trichomonas:
The Trichomonas organism is a protozoan organism. A protozoa is a single-celledorganism (organism comprising of a single cell).

Trichomonas belongs to a group of protozoan organisms called 'flagellates'. Many species offlagellate organisms parasitize birds and Trichomonas is but one of these (Giardia and Hexamita are some of the other flagellate species that infect birds). Flagellate organisms are characterized by having 'flagella'. Flagella (singular flagellum) are long, hair-like structures that protrude from the bodies of certain protozoan organisms and provide them with momentum (i.e. help them to swim). The various Trichomonas species (there aremany species of Trichomonas in addition to T. gallinae) have distinct clumps of flagella protruding from the anterior end of their bodies (the exact number of flagella present is one cluescientists use to determine the particular species of a Trichomonas organism that they have found).Most Trichomonads only have a maximum of 3-5 flagella. Trichomonas gallinae has 4 flagella.


What does Trichomonas look like - body characteristics and features of the organism:
Trichomonas organisms have a main body structure that is tear-drop or oval shaped. Being a completecell (a true single-celled organism), the body of Trichomonas contains a single nucleus. A centralrod-like structure called an axostyle runs through the centre of the organism along the long-axis. It protrudes a bit fromthe posterior end of the organism's body. A distinct membrane called an undulating membraneruns down one side of the organism's body like a fin. When the Trichomonas organism is viewed under the microscope, this membrane is seen to ripple down the organism's body in curved waves (hence the term: undulating). As mentioned before, 3-5 flagella protrude from the anterior end of the Trichomonas organism. One ofthese flagella (called a posterior flagellum) curves backwards, running along the topedge of the undulating membrane towards the rear of the organism.

I have drawn a very stylised diagram of a Trichomonas organism on the right. Dependingon the species of Trichomonas you are looking at, physical differences may exist in such features as: the numberof anterior flagella, the size and length of the undulating membrane, the size and shape and position of theparabasal body and the length of the axostyle.

Author's note: I have colored parts of the diagram to make my labeling moreclear. Trichomonas, when seen under the microscope, is colorless and translucent.

To see my video on identifying Trichomonas, through the microscope, click here.

How does Trichomonas reproduce (replicate)?:
The organism replicates by longitudinal fission, meaning that it essentially divides into two along its long axis. It does not produce a long-lived environmentally-shed oocyst like many other protozoan organisms do (e.g. coccidia, Giardia)and, for this reason, it can not survive for long away from its host.


How does Trichomonas survive in the body (what does it feed on) and how does it produce signs of disease?:
Trichomonas is an organism that lives and feeds on the mucosal surfaces liningvarious internal regions of the body. Which regions of the body get affected by Trichomonasdepends very much on the particular species of Trichomonas you are talking about. For example: Trichomonas tenax dwells on the mucosal surfaces lining the mouth, gums and upper respiratory tracts of people; Trichomonas gallinae affects the upper gastro-intestinal tract(esophagus, crop and proventriculus), mouth, oropharynx (throat region) and upper respiratory tract of birds and Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus both live uponthe mucosal surfaces lining the male and female reproductive tracts of humans and cattle, respectively.

On the one hand, Trichomonas can be considered to be a "clean up organism" in that it primarily feeds upon bacteria, cellular debris (bits of dead cells and bacteria), protein exudates andwhite blood cells (pus) present on the body surfaces where it lives. Many strains of Trichomonascause absolutely no symptoms in animals or people and are found incidentally during routine swabs.

Important note: Because they feed on cell debris, pus and bacteria, Trichomonasnumbers will often increase dramatically when the surfaces that they live on become infected or sick for some other reason (e.g. Trichomonas tenax loves to feed and breedin infected gum pockets and will tend to be found in people with poor dental hygiene and associated gum disease). Swabs of these infected tissues will often yield high numbers ofTrichomonas organisms, but one has to be cautious in interpreting this 'positive' resultbecause the Trichomonas populations might in fact only be increased secondary to some another disease condition (i.e. the Trichomonas organisms may not actually be responsible for the disease condition seen)!

More virulent, disease-causing strains of Trichomonas release proteins and enzymes that break down or 'digest' surrounding host tissues, causing injuryto these host tissues. They do this to make more food (more cell debris) for themselves. The highly antigenic proteins and enzymes released by the Trichomonas protozoans, as well as the host tissue damage incurred as a result of them, trigger a huge inflammatory response by the host, producing redness, swelling, pain, itching and pus exudation of the regions occupied by the Trichomonas organisms. Macrophages (a type of very large white blood cell) are often included in this inflammatory response as they are able to destroy Trichomonas organisms. The digestive proteins made bythe Trichomonas organisms and the injurious effects of the attacking host inflammatory response both conspire to produce damage to the host's tissues.

Even though Trichomonas generally only dwells on the mucosal surfaces of tissues likethe mouth, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract and vagina, sometimes the damage produced by the organisms can be so severe that the organism virtually 'eats through' the liningof its home and invades some of the more internal tissues. Both species of avianTrichomonas have been known to enter the livers of pigeons via the gastrointestinal tractand extreme infections of Trichomonas gallinae have been known to eat through theroof of the mouth of raptors, resulting in invasion of the brain.

Author's note: Trichomonas organisms prefer to live in more alkaline pH conditions(around pH 5-6). They will actively secrete substances into their local environment thatfacilitate a pH change towards their favored pH range. Bathing Trichomonas infected tissueswith mildly acidic solutions can often help to reduce their numbers (acidity kills them).


Does Trichomonas survive if it is away from its host?:
Trichomonas does not produce a long-lived environmentally-shed oocyst like many other protozoan organisms do (e.g. coccidia, Giardia) and, for this reason, it can not survive for long away from its host.I tend to find when I am performing Trichomonas swabs that I must look at them straight awayunder the microscope (i.e. as soon as possible after swabbing the host) otherwise they will die off within minutes and become undetectable. After about 30 minutes, most of the ones ona swab sample will generally have died - they do not live very long at all out of the host.

For this reason (limited survival away from the host animal), Trichomonas is generally transmitted though very close host-to-host contact. Depending on the species of Trichomonas and on the body sites it invades, this mode of transmission might include: kissing, sex, regurgitant feeding (birds)or the consumption of Trichomonas affected prey (raptors). Transmission can also occur through shared food and water sources, provided the organisms are not made to stay in the food or water for very long (they can live for some span of minutes in food and water sources, allowing some transmissionthrough this route). This route of transmission becomes very important when lots of animalsare eating and drinking at the same place at the same time (e.g. at busy bird feeders, aviaries).


Some basics on other Trichomonas species:
Trichomonas gallinae of birds is closely related to the various other Trichomonas organisms that live inother animal and human host species. Other types of Trichomonas include: Trichomonas tenax(which lives in the mouth, gums and respiratory tracts of people, often producing no symptoms); Trichomonas vaginalis (which lives in the reproductive tracts of people, causing reproductive problemsand infertility in some people and no signs of disease in others) and Tritrichomonas foetus (which lives in the reproductive tracts of cattle, zebu and other related hosts, causing vaginitis, early abortion, failure to conceive and infertility). There is also a species of Trichomonas now emergingthat is found to cause signs of colitis (mucoid stools, diarrhea, fresh blood in the feces, 'straining to defecate' and high-frequency defecation) in cats and kittens. It is found by examiningthe mucus present in freshly-passed stools under the microscope.

Note - The Trichomonad species that affect the reproductive tract(T. foetus and T. vaginalis) are generally carried by male animals(who usually show no symptoms) and passed to female animals through mating (the femaleanimals are the ones who usually show the signs of disease).



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2) Symptoms of Trichomonas infection in birds (symptoms of canker disease).

Birds with low levels of Trichomonas infestation may show absolutely no symptoms at all. In these cases,the organisms may go undiagnosed or they might be found by accident during a routine crop wash or oropharyngealswab examination. Folks who race pigeons often perform routine swabs on birds that appear clinicallynormal to detect if they carry the organisms and might pose a risk of infection to other birds in the loft.




Symptomatic Trichomonas gallinae infestations tend to present as signs of irritation and inflammation localised to the mouth, throat, gastrointestinal tract (lining of crop, esophagus and proventriculus)and upper respiratory tract, which makes sense since the organisms happen to preferentially reside inside of these regions. Symptoms suggestive of avian Trichomonas infection (canker) include:

  • 1) white or yellow cheesy-looking plaques, ulcers and/or nodules inside of the mouth and throat;
  • 2) reduced appetite, complete inappetance and/or a physical inability to eat;
  • 3) inability to swallow (either due to pain or because of severe esophageal thickening making food difficult to pass);
  • 4) crop stasis (thickening of the lining of the crop and/or oesophagus results in an inability of the food to move from the mouth to the stomach, producing starvation);
  • 5) excessive mucus in the mouth, esophagus and crop;
  • 6) regurgitation;
  • 7) vomiting (some birds vomit blood);
  • 8) dehydration;
  • 9) weight loss and poor body condition (some birds can become extremely emaciated);
  • 10) depression (fluffed-up, sleepy appearance - the 'sick bird' look);
  • 11) weakness;
  • 12) diarrhea;
  • 13) respiratory distress (the mucus secretions plug the trachea and throat, making it hard for the birds to breathe);
  • 14) liver damage can occur if the liver is invaded by Trichomonas organisms, resulting in green biliverdinemia (birds with liver failure or 'jaundice' appear green, not yellow);
  • 15) death.


Some severely affected birds may show many or most of these symptoms, whereas other birds may only showone or two of them and be almost asymptomatic.

Budgerigars rarely develop obvious oral lesions.

Raptors often get nasty, cheesy-looking lesions under their tongues and on their hard palates(the roof of the mouth). Over time, the Trichomonas organisms can destroy thehard palate and/or mandible (jaw bone), making the bird unable to eat and causing it to die from starvation.On some occasions, the Trichomonas organisms can even eat through the roof of the mouth and throatand into the skull and brain. Such a condition is generally fatal.



Diseases other than Trichomonas that can produce white or yellow plaques or ulcers in the mouths of birds:
  • Candida
  • Avian Pox Viruses (e.g. pigeon pox, magpie pox, canary pox);
  • Bacterial infections and abscesses
  • Squamous metaplasia from a lack of vitamin A in the diet (avitaminosis A)
  • Aspergillus infections
  • Capillariasis
  • Mycobacterial infections (e.g. avian tuberculosis)
  • Amazon tracheitis virus (a herpesvirus of Amazon parrots that is often associated with respiratory disease signs)
  • Various cancers of the mouth (squamous cell carcinomas, Fibrosarcomas, Lymphomas and Polyps have been diagnosed in birds)




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3) How is trichomoniasis disease spread among birds?

Trichomonas gallinae and Trichomonas columbae are spread from bird to birdoften via contaminated feed and water sources. During normal feeding and drinking activities, Trichomonas organisms present in the mouth and nasal secretions (e.g. saliva) of infected birds may enter food and water sources, contaminating them. Other birds consuming water and foodfrom the same sources (e.g. feed bowls) can pick up these organisms, thus becoming infected.

Trichomonas organisms are also passed in the feces of infected birds. Infected birdsmay defecate into food and water sources, contaminating those food and water supplies with Trichomonasorganisms that can infect the next bird that comes along.

Author's note: Be very aware of the potential for wild birds to pose a source ofTrichomonas infection for domestic birds. Wild pigeons and other species can walkaround on the roofs of aviaries, defecating through the wire into the food and water suppliesof the birds dwelling within. This is one way that a 'clean' flock can become contaminatedwith nasty Trichomonas.

Infected parent birds can spread Trichomonas to their young directly through regurgitantfeeding. When a bird regurgitates, it brings up partially digested food stored in its crop and passes this on to its young. Given that Trichomonas lives in the crop, esophagus and mouth, it follows that regurgitative feeding will result in large numbers of this organismpassing on to the baby birds. Pigeons are particularly bad for this. Pigeons produce a nutritious secretion in their crops that is referred to as 'crop milk'. They regurgitate thisto their offspring (squabs - the term for a young pigeon) as a form of nutrition and, in doing so, pass the Trichomonas bugs on to them.

Raptors (birds of prey) become infected with Trichomonas by predating upon other birds (e.g. doves and pigeons) that are carrying the organism. It takes about 10 days for the raptor to develop obvious infectionafter eating a sick bird.



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4) How is trichomoniasis diagnosed in birds (how to tell if a bird has the organism)?

Because it is such a small organism, one that cannot be seen with the naked eye, Trichomonas is not generally able to be definitively diagnosed simply byvisual examination of the sick bird. Certainly, the presence of distinctive yellow or whitenodules or plaques in the mouths of susceptible breeds (especially pigeons, doves and raptors)makes for a pretty convincing argument that Trichomonas is the likely diagnosis, however, as mentioned before, other diseases can produce similar symptoms (see section 2 for the differential list).

No. The only way to say a bird actually has Trichomonas is to prove it visually (under the microscope).

One of the simplest and best ways to diagnose Trichomonas is to perform a wet mount preparation or 'wet prep'on secretions or exudates taken from regions of the bird's body that are likely to contain the organism (should it be present). Really good samples to take when hunting for Trichomonas include: crop fluid (crop wash fluid), samples of any mouth lesions and/or feces. These samples must be very fresh (i.e. examinedstraight from the bird)! Discovering the Trichomonas organism swimming about under the microscopecertainly confirms that the bird carries it and that it could be causing the symptoms seen (in section 1I described how Trichomonas can be present in a bird and yet not be causing the disease signs seen).

The simple wet prep:

  • Take a fresh sample from the bird. Good samples include: crop wash fluid, fecal samples and/or scrapings of mouth lesions (e.g. cheesy, yellow or white mouth ulcers, nodules or lumps). Scrapings taken from the edges of oral lesions (where the lesion abuts up against normal mucosa) yield good results.
  • Put a small amount of the sample on a mildly warmed (body temperature) glass slide (microscope slide).
  • Add a couple of drops of warmed saline (0.9% NaCl) to the sample present on the slide. I like to use saline as my diluent because it is isotonic (same density) with most cellular and bodily fluids and won't tend to destroy the Trichomonas organisms. Dense, hypertonic solutions and low-density hypotonic solutions (e.g. pure water) are no good because they tend to cause the Trichomonas organisms to either lose fluid or expand with fluid, respectively, causing them to "pop" (which is no good for diagnosis because the organisms are dead). You also want the saline warm (body temp) because the Trichomonas die if they are too cold (they are fragile little buggers).
  • Put a cover slip over the sample/saline mixture on the slide.
  • Examine under the microscope (do it immediately, within 20-30 minutes of taking the sample - the Trichomonas organisms do not live long away from the host).
  • I find that you need to use at least a 40x microscope setting (400x) to see them. You may have go to about 100x (1000x - under oil) to tell them from other similar flagellate organisms like Giardia and Hexamita.
  • You should see the Trichomonas moving about within the debris. It is distinguishable by its undulating membrane and by the fact that it swims erratically with an odd, jerky motion.


To see my video on identifying Trichomonas, through the microscope, click here.

Trichomonas versus Giardia on a wet prep:
Giardia has no undulating membrane. Giardia has two giant sucking discs on the bottomof its body, which makes it look as though it has two huge eyes. Giardia also tends to swimin straight lines with a nice smooth motion.

Note: You can also use a 'hanging drop' technique to see Trichomonas. The organismis spotted swimming happily about the 'drop'. Generally a wet-prep is quite adequate though.


Culture of Trichomonas:
Sometimes Trichomonas organisms are not always that easy to find using simple wet prep techniques(particularly if numbers of organisms are not that high). If Trichomonas is strongly suspectedbut organisms are not able to be detected, samples of blood, liver, crop fluid, feces and mouth lesionsmay be placed into a Trichomonas-specific culture medium. This medium will causelow numbers of Trichomonas organisms to multiply rapidly, such that they will be able to bedetected (confirming the suspected infestation). In short, culturing body samples (fluids, tissues, lesions)suspected of having Trichomonas can greatly improve the chances of making a positive diagnosis(i.e. it is a more sensitive technique).


Fecal flotation?
Trichomonas is not generally diagnosed on fecal float. For one, it does not produce any resistant, "floatable"oocysts (unlike Giardia and Hexamita, which do produce cysts and may show up on fecal floatation).Secondly, Trichomonas tends to be rapidly destroyed by most fecal flotation solutions,making it impossible to spot on fecal float. I would not rely on fecal float for diagnosing this organism.


Liver samples in pigeons and other birds:
Sometimes birds die from Trichomonas gallinae or Trichomonas columbae invasion of the internal organs (especially the liver) beforethe owner even knows that they are sick. Smears taken of the liver of freshly-deceased birds canoften reveal the distinct Trichomonas colonies present among the damaged liver cells.

Important author's note: Your vet will do the post mortem and the liver smears. It is never recommended thatpeople perform post mortems on their own animals (particularly birds!) without veterinary supervision.Birds can carry a range of serious diseases that can be transmitted to people via post-mortem procedures.



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5) Treatment of Trichomonas infestations in definitive host birds.

The main drugs that are used to combat Trichomonas infestations in birds are:metronidazole (Metrin, Flagyl S Syrup), ronidazole (Ronivet), carnidazole (Spartrix) and dimetridazole (Emtryl).

Metronidazole:
Metronidazole tends to be dosed at around 10-30 mg/kg twice daily, however, I have seen doses ofup to 40mg/kg used in raptors and as high as 50mg/kg mentioned in some textbooks.
It is generally given twice daily for about 5 days (up to 10 days).

Metronidazole oral preparations taste very bad and birds can go off food when they placed are on it. If this is a huge concern (e.g. in a very skinny bird), a once daily injection of Metrin at 10mg/kg IM can be given instead.

IMPORTANT: This information is for general reading purposes only. Do not self-prescribe medication for your birds without talking to your vet first. The wrong drug given to the wrong bird can kill! If you suspect Trichomonas infestation, get your vet to diagnose the infestation (section 4, above) and prescribethe correct treatment for your circumstances.

Ronidazole:
Ronidazole tends to be dosed at around 6-10 mg/kg once daily.
It is generally given for about 6 days (up to 10 days).

IMPORTANT: This information is for general reading purposes only. Do not self-prescribe medication for your birds without talking to your vet first. The wrong drug given to the wrong bird can kill! If you suspect Trichomonas infestation, get your vet to diagnose the infestation (section 4, above) and prescribethe correct treatment for your circumstances.

Carnidazole (commonly used in pigeons and raptors):
Carnidazole tends to be dosed at around 20-30 mg/kg. Most texts say to use the drug only once (a one-off dose). I have not personally used this product before. I tend to use Metronidazole or Ronidazole.
It is reported to be a fairly safe drug toxicity-wise.

IMPORTANT: This information is for general reading purposes only. Do not self-prescribe medication for your birds without talking to your vet first. The wrong drug given to the wrong bird can kill! If you suspect Trichomonas infestation, get your vet to diagnose the infestation (section 4, above) and prescribethe correct treatment for your circumstances.

Dimetridazole:
This drug is commonly associated with side effects and toxicity and needs to be carefully dosed. It is no longer used very much.

Author's note: With long term use, it is not uncommon for Trichomonas organisms todevelop resistance to any of the medications listed above.

Additional supportive care:
Birds affected with Trichomonas lesions often get secondary bacterial infectionsestablishing in damaged tissues. This can result in septicemia and death. Broad spectrum antibioticdrugs are often helpful in resolving such issues.

Surgical debridement of large oral lesions can help to clear the bird's airways andto remove large chunks of Trichomonas infection (large Trichomonas coloniesexist within the creamy coloured nodules).

Supportive feeding (e.g. tube feeding) may be required to help nourish severelyinappetent and/or emaciated birds.

IMPORTANT - read our disclaimer: Once again, this information is provided for general reading purposes only. It is hard to talkabout a disease without discussing treatment options and this is why I have included this info on my site. Please do not self-prescribe medication for your birds without talking to your vet first. Although we try very hard tobe accurate, drug doses and formulations change all the time and between different countries and information that is current now may not be applicable in the future. The wrong drug given to the wrong bird can kill! If you suspect Trichomonas infestation, get your vet to diagnose the infestation (section 4, above) and prescribethe correct treatment for your circumstances. Pet Informed can not take responsibility foranything that goes wrong should you choose to ignore this advice and treat your birds without seeking veterinary aid.



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6) Preventing your bird/s from catching avian canker (trichomoniasis).

The ongoing control and prevention of Trichomonas infection can be quite difficult if the flock is largeand crowded and/or if it is subject to contamination by wild bird flocks or even domestic flocks of unknown diseasestatus (as seen in pigeon racing - during races, birds from all manner of flocks and backgroundsmake contact with each other and share common feeding and watering grounds, meaning that the potential for Trichomonasspread is very high.) Elimination and ongoing control of the parasite requires the bird ownerto improve hygiene and husbandry conditions within his own flock and to take steps to reduce the risk ofTrichomonas being brought into the flock from the outside world (e.g. via introduced birds and wild pestbirds).



Good hygiene and husbandry conditions in the flock can reduce Trichomonas spread and persistence:
  • Clean away soiled litter, soiled perching materials, fallen seed and bird feces as often as possible (at least daily or every second day if you can).
  • Water bowls should be cleaned thoroughly (e.g. disinfectant and hot water) and the water changed daily.
  • Food and water bowls should not be placed near perching sites (this will go some way towards reducing fecal contamination of the food and water).
  • The birds should not be exposed to intense stress (i.e. poor hygiene, dirty conditions, excessive noise, excessive dust, extremes of heat and cold, exposure to strange birds or predators, overcrowding, worms and other parasites, excessive exercise, insufficient food and water and so on). Stress reduces the birds' immune system responses, making it easier for them to catch Trichomonas and harder for them to clear it.
  • The birds should not be overcrowded - this increases stress and also increases Trichomonas transmission opportunities.
  • Check birds daily to assess their overall health (this can help you to pick up signs of early disease/illness).
  • If possible, weigh the birds every few days (weight loss can be an early sign of disease/illness in birds).
  • Immediately isolate any birds who seem unwell or abnormal and get them worked-up for disease.
  • Trichomonas infected birds should be treated in isolation from other, healthy birds.
  • Birds housed in contact with birds found to be infected with Trichomonas parasites should also be treated. It is likely for all 'in-contact' birds to carry some population of the organism.
  • All deceased birds should be necropsied by your vet to find the cause of death.
  • Bird feces should be regularly screened for parasites (fecal float and wet prep), which will help you to know if the flock has some level of Trichomonas present.
  • Bird feces should be regularly screened for Salmonella (fecal culture).
  • Cull persistently affected and 'carrier' birds (birds who keep turning up a positive swab for Trichomonas, despite having been given treatment for it), even if they have no signs of Trichomonas disease. They pose a risk of infection for the rest of the flock.

Preventing Trichomonas from being brought into the flock by outside sources:

  • Where possible, do not let your birds mix with other birds from different backgrounds, who are of unknown disease status.
  • This includes shows - do not let your bird/s (e.g. pigeon/s, dove/s, poultry) mix with other flocks at shows.
  • At shows, gloves should be worn when handling birds and changed to a fresh pair every time a new bird is examined.
  • Do not let your birds drink from food and water sources that other birds not of your flock have already had access to.
  • House birds (including at shows) where they are not exposed to droppings and secretions shed by other birds (e.g. open wire cages stacked under other open wire cages as is commonly seen in poultry sheds).
  • Cage and aviary roofs should be solid so that wild birds can not stand on top of them and poop down into the flock's water and food supplies.
  • Design aviaries or cages so that wild birds can not gain access to the flock or its food and water supplies.
  • Discourage wild birds from coming near your flock (e.g. erect predatory bird 'kites').
  • Do not leave food around (e.g. seed spilt outside of or underneath the aviary, compost heaps) that will attract wild birds.
  • Clean up any spilled seed, including seed that falls down underneath the cage or aviary (if it is a raised structure).
  • Racing pigeons should be housed away from the main, non-racing pigeon flock during racing time. These birds should be subjected to a period of isolation (quarantine) and Trichomonas treatment (e.g. metronidazole) and be screened clear of Trichomonas before being reintroduced to the rest of the group.
  • New birds introduced to the flock should be subjected to a period of isolation (quarantine) and treated for Trichomonas (e.g. metronidazole) before they are introduced to the rest of the flock. Birds should be screened for Trichomonas and confirmed to be clear of the organisms before they enter the main flock facility.
  • Make sure your existing flock is free of disease, including Trichomonas before introducing new birds to it. Screen the flock for Trichomonas to ensure it is 'clean'. Just as new birds pose a risk of infestation for a flock, so too is does an established flock pose a risk of infection for the new birds.
  • Do not let visitors to your flock handle the birds if they have recently been handling other birds, including their own birds.
  • With regard to people visiting your property/flock, do not let them handle birds from different cages without changing gloves.

Periodic Trichomonas treatment:

Racing pigeons commonly pick up Trichomonas during the racing season. Many pigeon keeperswill routinely treat their racing birds periodically with antibiotic treatments during the racing season to keep populations of Trichomonas low. A common way of doing thisis to treat the birds with a 3-day course of antibiotics once every 3 weeks.

Strategic Trichomonas treatment is often given to bird flocks just before anticipated times of stress(stress reduces the immune system competency of the birds, permitting Trichomonas populationsto increase). Bird keepers often treat birds routinely for Trichomonas just beforebreeding, just after weaning and, in racing flocks, just before racing.



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Your Trichomonas links:



To go from this Trichomoniasis page to the Pet Informed Home Page, click here.

To go to our fecal float page, click here (pigeon and poultry keepers should find this page to be of interest).

To see my video on identifying Trichomonas, through the microscope, click here. As it is my first Youtube video, any feedback would be much appreciated.



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Trichomonas References and Suggested Readings:

1) Protozoans. In Bowman DD, Lynn RC, Eberhard ML editors: Parasitology for Veterinarians, USA, 2003, Elsevier Science.

2) Subkingdom Protozoa. In Hobbs RP, Thompson ARC, Lymbery AJ: Parasitology, Perth, 1999, Murdoch University.

3) Other Flagellated Protozoa. In Schmidt GD, Roberts LS: Foundations of Parasitology, 6th ed., Singapore, 2000, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

4) Diseases of the Alimentary System. In Raidal SR, Avian Medicine, Perth, 2001, Murdoch University Press.

5) Common Diseases of Aviary Birds. In Shephard M, Aviculture in Australia: Keeping and BreedingAviary Birds. China, 2003, Reed new Holland.

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Trichomonas gallinae pigeon canker - TOP.



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Please note: the aforementioned Trichomonas prevention, control and treatment guidelines are general information and recommendations only. The information provided is based on published information and on relevant veterinary literature and publications and my own experience as a practicing veterinarian.The advice given is appropriate to the vast majority of pet owners, however, giventhe large range of Trichomonas medication types and Trichomonas prevention and control protocols now available, owners should take it upon themselves to ask their own veterinarian what treatment and Trichomonas prevention schedules s/he is using so as to be certain what to do. Owners with specific circumstances (e.g. high and repeated Trichomonas infestation burdens in their pet/s; very young birds;commercial bird producers (e.g. poultry farmers); multiple-bird environments; commercial animal breeders;animals on immune-suppressant medicines; animals with immunosuppressant diseases or conditions; owners of sick and debilitated animals; public health workers etc. etc.) should ask their vet what the safest and most effective Trichomonas control protocol is for their situation.

Please note: the scientific names mentioned in this Trichomonas article are only current asof the date of this Trichomonas web-page's copyright date and the dates of my references. Parasite scientific names are constantly being reviewed and changed as new scientific information becomes available and names that are current now may alter in the future.